As an unabashed lover of science-fiction and for strong female leads, Orphan Black was an easy recommendation for me. The first season was more fun than it had any right to be with a chameleon of a lead in relative unknown Tatiana Maslany. Despite the fact that the show never quite rose in the ranks in terms of recognition, it got a significant cult following as well as an abundance of praise from television critics. It wasn’t universal adoration, but it had unquestionably left its mark.
Needless to say, due to the success of the first season and how it defied the odds in terms of it’s out-of-the-box premise; I was hesitant, if not still excited, about the upcoming sophomore season. Season one had hardly taken a breather in its ten episode run and with that left a concern of fatigue. Had they already run out of plans with their characters? Was Rachel going to be a success in the same way that the others had been in the past? What were we going to do without Helena?
In typical fashion, my doubts are proven wrong and about thirty seconds into the episode I’m already feeling foolish to doubt the energy of the show. Because, literally, the show starts of running and doesn’t slow the pace throughout the entirety of the run time.
The show could have chosen a number of paths of how to proceed with the show after the cliff hanger we were left with last year. Kira and Mrs. S have been abducted and Sarah assumes it’s by Rachel and her lab rats—she’s further convinced when she receives a bartering call where she’s told if she wants to her daughter back she’ll have to turn herself over for testing.
(As you may or may not remember, and really this show should come with cliff notes, Sarah is the super special clone for being able to have a biological child.)
Sarah, in her typical, impulsive nature, takes off running instead, trusting her survival instinct. She runs and she runs until she reaches a diner, finds a moment of solitude and solace before it’s broken up with more gunfire and death. She’s cornered by whom she assumes is Rachel’s men and there’s no immediate escape route visible to the viewers. She’s stuck in a dingy bathroom with the only face she’s seen all night bleeding on the floor out in the dining area. So, she thinks quick, uses any bit of muscle, mind and willpower that she has sustained and finds her way out.
By busting a hole through the wall and climbing out and back into the rain, only to start running again.
Despite the fact that Allison completely and totally stole my heart in season one and became my “favorite clone” so to speak, I have an enormous amount of love for Sarah because Sarah is a fighter. Rough and tumble, beat up, and reliant on adrenaline and sheer force of will more than actual brute strength, Sarah is a force to be reckoned with. I used to talk to fellow fans about the show and we would talk about how Sarah would always find herself in situations where it looked like there was absolutely no way for Sarah to get out of her current mess without being caught or killed. Despite this immediate response to seeing a beloved character in danger on screen, Sarah always managed to beat the odds, figuring out often the strangest but most efficient ways of getting herself out of predicaments.
The season two premiere is very obviously a set-up for the following season but it’s done with such an excellent pace and obvious sense of enjoyment it hardly matters. After Sarah gets herself out of her mess we briefly check in with our other clones. Cosima is telling Delphine that she needs to be able to be in control of her own biological data and if she’s to be studied she should get the first look. Allison is busy being perfect—she’s cut down the drinking and the pills and is concentrating now on her leading role for her small town musical and still finding the time to find Sarah a gun and Rachel. Rachel is the newbie but poses the largest threat for the upcoming episodes. She sees the rest of the clones as tools with her being the clone supreme of sorts—the one in charge of everything else.
Side characters get their moments as well. Felix gets too little screentime especially considering that after Maslany, Jordan Garvaris is the only actor on the show capable of carrying more than one or two different emotions. I hope we get to see more of Felix this year. We also check in with Paul (dull Paul) who seemingly is working with Rachel, Delphine (who I’m still unsure about) and Detective Art and his partner Angie (let it be known I think Angie is the worst part of the entire show).
The show, and the episode this week, however is still primarily the clone show. It’s Maslany and Maslany playing against Maslany again. And she knocks it out of the park every time. With each and every character introduction it felt like someone new was entering the story, fresh faced and all. Despite no reliance on heavy make-up or over the top wardrobes, sometimes it’s still difficult to remember that there aren’t four different actresses on the show.
There’s one scene in particular that a delight when Sarah is impersonating Cosima and he we know after one awkward glance. Later as she’s talking to Delphine and Doctor Leeke her accent slips, only the slightest bit and it’s all the more impressive.
The episode’s narrative itself is building towards a high tension climax. Sarah wants Kira back and she doesn’t just want to sit around doing nothing as her daughter is being held captive somewhere. So, now that she has a gun, thanks to Allison, she gets to plot her break-in. She sends her tail to Allison, where we’re a given a hilarious moment where Allison nearly gets to single-handedly take out three armed men. The men realize they’ve been tricked and let her go but it’s already allowed Sarah enough time to sneak into the party where Doctor Leeke and Rachel are both in attendance. Dressed as Cosima she makes Delphine tell her where Rachel would be and finds her, waits for the armed men to leave, and then attacks.
The showdown between the two is fantastically shot, showcasing how far the show has come in showing more than one clone onscreen at once. Rachel is sure that Sarah won’t shoot, but with Kira on the line, Sarah will do anything and she takes a shot, close to Rachel, to scare her. After hitting her and threatening her some more Rachel tells her that they don’t have Kira, that the house had been ransacked when they had arrived for her, and that Kira was taken by someone else. Before Sarah has time to get any more information, boring Paul has entered, his gun drawn, and tells Sarah to leave. Not willing to go without the upper hand she knocks Rachel out and turns to Paul who tells her that Rachel wasn’t lying. That they found the connection to the two men who attacked her in the diner earlier in the episode and they were attached to the same religious cult that Helena’s people had been.
We get two last scenes that can’t be coincidental that they’re paired up. The first, and easily the high point of the episode for me, is Helena (who else is THRILLED that she’s alive) stumbling into the hospital, duct tape wrapped around her chest which had taken the bullet from Sarah’s gun last season. She’s alive, critical, but alive and I couldn’t be happier.
The next shot is Kira being held captive and about to be put on camera, for whatever reason the cult needs her to be.
It looks like we’re going to have to wait a bit longer before we find out why Kira is so necessary to this group but you have to wonder what the connection is between both Helena and Kira—aside from the fact that Helena is technically Kira’s aunt. One of the biggest shocks of Helena’s appearance is the obvious one. She shouldn’t be alive. And last season, Kira was also able to survive threatening circumstance. Are these two tied somehow?
I’m sure the season will get to answering these questions and in the meantime I’m just happy that easily the most fun show for me to watch is back on air. What did you think of the start of season two?